1149 Tasting Notes
First time I’ve ever shopped with this company. I want to talk about them for a bit, because it’s not a name I’ve seen on Steepster before that I can recall, although they have a fairly large number of teas in the database. I know some of my other European Steepsterites are like me when it comes to looking up unfamiliar companies. There are SO many of them that are based in the US and therefore out of our reach due to shipping fees and/or customs fees or perhaps they don’t even ship outside the US at all. As a consequence we often don’t even bother checking and we are undoubtedly missing out on a bunch of interesting shops. Jenier Teas is based in Scotland and the shopping basket on their website calculates shipping costs automatically for you as you put things in in your own currency(!!!), making it a piece of cake to keep an eye on.
I ordered mostly samples (or mini-packs, as I believe they were listed as on the site), but it didn’t say anywhere that I could see what the quantity of a sample was.
I can now tell you that Jenier’s samples weigh a whopping 25 grams.
Fortunately, they come in ziplocked pouches, except one, which I’ve tinned.
I also received in my order a small handwritten, personalised card in an envelope with my name on it. I’ve commented on this sort of thing before. I believe it was the first time I ordered something from Verdant. It makes me feel a closer connection to the vendor, like I really am a cherished customer, and not just another face in the crowd of people throwing money at them.
So anyway, I bought a load of samples and one tea in a larger quantity. Had I known this would be the size of the samples, I might have shown a little more moderation, but I was not to know this. (On the other hand, knowing that I can buy a fairly significant amount without having to buy a LOT is another thing that will definitely make me want to shop there again.)
Unfortunately it seems that none of the teas that I bought, not one, are in the database already.
I’m feeling quite exhausted so I thought I’d have something that sounded like it might be sweet. When I saw cherries and almonds, I thought it would be some sort of dessert-y marcipan-y concoction, but it isn’t. Not even remotely.
For one thing, it’s quite discreetly flavoured. I can’t really find much in the way of cherries here, and the almonds aren’t marcipan-y at all. They’re more like eating almonds as a nut if you understand what I mean here. Both aspects are definitely almond, but they taste entirely different. It’s very nice, but not at all what I was expecting.
I wonder what the base black is here. It’s a bit tannic and harsh in the background there, so I’m guessing a rougher-end Ceylon or Ceylon-heavy blend. This seems to be a very common tea to use as a base for flavoureds. Checking the information from the shop, it turns out the Ceylon is correctly identified.
So yeah, I’m not wowed by this by any means, but I’m also not discouraged by it. Had it been horrible I’d have been concerned about the rest of my order, you see. I may try to beef the cherry aspect up a bit with another cherry flavoured black that I’ve got.
Can I just start with a small rant here? Twinings’ listing of teas in the database is a mess. A mess! There seem to be so many duplicates and at least one instance of the product description actually having a paragraph about the tea in question NOT being a duplicate of another variety with the same name. So I couldn’t find a proper entry for the particular one that I’m having now, but I did find this. A variety pack entry? I’m sorry, but isn’t that just kinda lazy? Shouldn’t the five different varieties all have their own entry in the database? Why would you enter it as a variety pack where nobody can see what it is you are actually drinking? I don’t get it.
But then, I’m finding myself with a fairly low amount of ‘get’ today and also not too much in the way of patience, really. We just got back from England around midnight last night (family occasion, and not one of the happy ones), and we’ve been half staff at work today. Add to that being extremely tired from aforementioned travelling and little sleep and the scratchy throat that I seem to have picked up somewhere between England and Denmark.
Aforementioned family occasion, which I don’t think we need to go further into, was an out of town sort of affair, so we stayed overnight at a bed and breakfast and this is where we come to the relevant to Steepster bit.
In our room, I had three kinds of tea bags. PG Tips (Pretty dire. The Lipton of the UK. But at least it was a black tea), some sort of cheap green in a bag and a chamomile and spicy apple sort of concoction. Or, as I put it to Husband, “I have one choice and two others.”
The latter, however, was so bizarre sounding that I nicked the bag and brought it home with me, and it’s THAT ONE out of this variety pack that
I’m having now. Medicinal purposes even. See ‘scratchy throat.’
I just could not imagine this combination at all, but as it turns out it’s not really as weird as all that. Chamomile and apple are both kind of sour-sweet flavours so they match each other well, neither of them taking over and turning the cup into a mugfull of acidic bleurgh-ness. It’s actually a pretty clever combination. It is, however, still chamomile. And it’s also the least spicy spicy apple I’ve ever met. I had to actually go and look at the bag again just to assure myself that it really did say ‘spicy apple’ on it. I don’t know what it’s supposed to be spiced with, but whatever it is, it’s not working.
I am always up for trying a new lapsang souchong. I’m one of those people who greatly enjoys the smoked flavour and almost can’t get enough of it. Well, I say almost because I do have a certain ideal balance between the smoke note and the other notes. Many lapsangs are actually very sweet and fruity underneath the smoke, and it’s that note that I want to come out clearly as well. I want that and the smoke more or less in equal measures. That’s my Perfect LS. So of course I would choose lapsang souchong for one of my free samples with my recent order.
The first time I ever noticed that fruity sweet aspect it drove me nearly nuts for months trying to get the brewing conditions right to replicate it. I’ve got that down now. I’ve learned how to make a black tea in exactly the way that suits me best, but the first time I really thought something must have been tampering with my leaf.
Anyway, this particular lapsang smells like it has a very strong note of that fruity sweetness. There isn’t even all that much smoke in the aroma. It seems very mild. I have read that this fruity note is supposed to be reminiscent of longan fruit, but I have no idea what those are, so I couldn’t tell if I agree with that or not. To me, it’s leaning more towards stone fruits and lychee.
The flavour is indeed quite mild on the smoke. At first I almost thought it wasn’t there, but then it showed up and lingered on the aftertaste. The fruity sweetness is there as well, but at this moment the tea is still too hot for me to be able to taste anything properly
After cooling a little bit, the smoke comes forth a little more, but it’s still a very mild LS this. The fruity note is strong in this one and quite sweet. The smoke is mostly there in the aftertaste for me, but it lingers for a long time.
If you are looking to try lapsang souchong for the first time and don’t know if you will care for the smoke or not, I would definitely recommend this one as an introduction because it’s so mild. It won’t overwhelm you with smoke, so even if you find you don’t much care for the smoke, I should think you would still find this at least drinkable.
In completely other news, I’ve noticed that I tend to capitalise tea names. Like writing Keemun instead of keemun and Lapsang Souchong and so on. I’ve made an effort not to do it in this post, but am I actually supposed to do that? What do you guys do?
17°C, phone weather app? Really? I highly doubt it as that must surely be the warmest 17°C ever measured. It was definitely more like somewhere between 20 and 25! I absolutely refuse to believe otherwise.
Anyway, this warm, summery weather has put me in the mood of something green, and therefore I turn towards a tea that Autumn Hearth shared with me an embarrassingly long time ago. She sent me a whole little green tea education that time, but I never managed to make it through all of the things she sent me, as I must have misplaced this and two others. Obviously my old system for storing samples doesn’t work, and my newer system of keeping everything untried in a box on my desk seems to be working much better.
This one smells very fruity. I’m thinking something along a sweet apple sort or possible some sort of stone fruit. Yeah, mostly the latter, actually.
It tastes very sweet too, and it has that fruity note in the flavour as well as the aroma. There’s also a fairly strong mineral note and something that reminds me of some kind of green vegetable. A leafy sort of flavour. I’m not sure what it is. I’m getting thoughts of spinach here, but it doesn’t really taste like spinach at all. That’s just because whenever someone says ‘leafy greens’ to me, spinach is the first thing that comes to mind.
This is quite pleasant. I’m not one to drink an awful lot of green tea. It’s something that I have to be in a very specific mood for these days, but when I do, I’ve noticed that I tend to favour Japanese over Chinese. They generally strike me as having a clearer, crisper flavour profile, where Chinese green tea often strikes me as more sort of thick and murky.
Huh! Looks like I’m the odd duck. I quite enjoyed this and mine is ancient.
Hello Steepsterites! Remember I did Project Ceylon earlier this year, in which I tried a bunch of different Ceylon teas and tried to work out if there was a pattern to which ones I liked and which ones I liked less? That was fun. Let’s do it again!
I spent some time pondering whether to do Project Africa or Project Assam. Both sounded interesting to me. African teas have interested me for a while, but I’ve never done much about learning the area, and I’ve been in a bit of an Assam-y mood recently. In the end I decided Project Africa sounded more interesting. We are seeing more and more single estate loose leaf out there, and from more and more different countries it seems. Kenya still heavily in the lead, but others are definitely getting out there as well. It’s a shame I didn’t decide to do this yesterday, since I just discovered Jenier Teas yesterday and accidentally AHEM WELL, moving right along! At any rate, they had a LOT of different Kenyan teas and a few from other African countries as well, so samples shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
I already had this one that Sil very generously shared with me. And it was generous because it was actually a sample that had been shared with her by Terri HarpLady, so I had told her to only send me some if there really was enough to share. Lucky for me, there was.
This tea comes from the Kaproret estate, which was highly difficult to find on the map. All I got when searching for Kaproret were two different primary schools that weren’t even that close together, and I couldn’t see anything on the sattelite photo that looked like tea fields. That was a great help during Project Ceylon, because tea fields are pretty easy to recognise from the air. Turns out that they aren’t so easily recognisable in Kenya, because they have a layout which is much in straight lines on square fields, making them look like any other kind of green field. Further Google investigation then revealed that it’s part of the Kericho tea districts, where I found a name tag that just said ‘Tea Gardens’, but no further explanations of which gardens were there and what they were called. So I put the marker there. Seemed to be the right area and as good a place as any. And nowhere near those other two primary schools. While searching I did find a different and name-tagged tea estate, so I put a pin in it, just in case I need to find it again later.
The aroma is quite grainy and malty and it has a sort of Assam feel to it somehow. It’s like it just has a something that tells me Assam. Seriously, you could totally fool me with this. If I’d been given this without knowing what it was, Assam would be my first guess. Makes me wonder if I should do Project Assam hot on the heels of Project Africa… The grain is stronger than in most Assams though, so it does stand out. A little bit. Not enough that I’d notice if I didn’t know better, but there is a small difference there. It smells like it can really pack a good punch.
The flavour is surprisingly fruity sweet right at first. Reminds me a little of plums or apricot, although that still feels a bit like a stretch. Then the grain and malt comes into play and it is indeed a quite strong tea. It’s no wonder ctc-ed Kenyan is often used to beef up the blends in certain inferior teabags that we could mention. It’s strong and it lays down a heavy bottom.
Underneath the flavour there is a mild to moderate degree of astringency, which once again reminds me of Assam. That and the strength are really the only things about the flavour that reminds me of Assam, unlike what I noticed in the aroma. It’s not so much, though, that it feels like drinking ashes and it’s fairly well balanced with the strength of the flavour.
As it cools down a little more, it changes character completely. It loses the fruit-y sweet aspect I noticed right at first and instead takes on a strong Yunnan-like note of hay. The very note that makes me less interested in golden Yunnans. Where did that come from?
This is a different beast entirely from my usual Chinese blacks. I’m quite enjoying how strong it is, but I think I could have lived without the Yunnan-y aspect. This is one that I preferred while it was still piping hot.
Reference map: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211803378882467968316.0004dd9c2591ff5d7d6bf&msa=0&ll=-0.394539,35.252938&spn=0.014741,0.021651 (This is what I get when I check the ‘short URL’ box. Deal with it…)
(Edited to add in a forgotten word, the absense of which totally changed the meaning of the sentence)
Once upon a time when I had only just discovered flavoured pu-erh someone told me that sweet flavours tends to go very well with that type of tea. It was the first time I had my orange flavoured pu-erh and I can’t remember who it was, but I definitely remember thinking at the time that they were somebody who ought to know what they were talking about.
Since then a long time has passed and the number of flavoured pu-erhs that I have seen have been very limited indeed. And I’ve never seen one of these sweet flavoured ones.
Not until Sil asked me, “what would you like to try?” and I saw this in her cupboard. I’m afraid my reaction might have been ever so slightly undignified. It involved gasping and flailing. I may even have begged a little bit. So yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this one a lot and I’m ever so glad that Sil was willing to share with me.
The aroma of the leaf reminds me of that toffee flavoured black from Le Palais des Thes. It’s obviously not the same base at all, but they both have that smell that reminds me of fudge. I’m not really picking up any notes of the base tea in this one at all. Just fudge. (Actually, that’s quite inspiring. I’d like to try and make my own. How hard can it be? I’d like to try and make my own caramel sweeties as well. We did that in school once, and it was totally easy)
After steeping the pu-erh comes through and mixes well with the toffee notes. I can see already now that whoever it was told me that about pu-erhs and sweet flavours really did know their business. These notes mix so well, it doesn’t feel like it’s added flavouring at all. A bit too much on the sweet side to be entirely natural, of course, but it smells like it could have been if it had wanted to.
If this stuff tastes as awesome as it smells, I’m going to be in deep trouble because I know of no way to source some for myself. I’m suddenly faced with the possibility of my perfect caramel/toffee flavoured tea not being a regular black at all. I mean I thought I’d already found my perfect one. Now I’m concerned that I’m in for a bit of a shock. O.o
So I took a couple of sips and have suddenly found myself at a loss for words. I don’t know how to continue. This has never happened to me before.
Either I’ve actually discovered a new perfect caramel-y/toffee tea, or it has an enormous flaw in order to be a candidate for perfection. And I don’t know which of these statements is true.
This is my very first impression of this tea. Complete ambivalence. How the plock am I supposed to even begin to determine the score??? O.o
I’m going to try and describe my experience of it here. Perhaps that’s going to help me.
I’m getting a lot of pu-erh flavour here. It’s a wood-y, kind of dry flavour without much in the way of earthy notes. It’s not the smoothest tea in the world at all and it feels a bit rough around the edges. I’m even getting something which, under other circumstances, I would describe as borderline pseudo-smoky.
Then the toffee flavour gradually takes over, and we are talking about a very seamless transition here. I really couldn’t say where one notes stops and the other begins. It’s vanilla-y and cocoa-y and it really suits the base flavour. It sort of feels like they’re the same ‘family’ of flavours, if you know what I mean. A bit like how various citrus fruits have very different flavours, but they are still all taste citrus-y.
The flavouring in this one is fantastic, but I’m not completely sold on the base. I would have liked a smoother base, I think, and that is at the root of my ambivalence. I should dearly love to see this exact flavouring on a super-smooth Chinese base, or a friendly Assam, perhaps.
So here I am. Wondering what to do about something I could rate at an absolute top score and feel I had scored it honestly, or I could rate it at 60 and still feel that I been honest. What to do? I’m going to go straight for the middle of the two with a bias towards the higher end because the flavouring is so extremely well done.
Conundrum in a cup.
“You know that tea…?” Husband asked me last night.
EEK! Well, that was a good fifteen minutes steep, I think. And I didn’t even know what the base was at that point. Turns out to be a blend of Chinese and Ceylon, and as we know Chinese blacks can take a lot of abuse while Ceylon can really go either way. No adverse effects then.
This is a tea that Cteresa shared with me and I have to admit that I found it difficult to concentrate on it last night for some reason. It simply just failed to hold my attention for very long, so I’m writing this on a flimsy memory.
The base held up to the mishap very well, without a single bit of bitterness or astringency. The fruit flavouring was… well, fruity, obviously, but I couldn’t pick out each individual fruit. This may have something to do with my lack of concentration, but my immediate thought was that it was somewhat generic red fruit-y.
It’s a fairly classic flavouring, this, so I’ve had it and enjoyed it before from other vendors. Then, I definitely remember being able to ‘find’ each of the four red fruits in the flavour. Knowing what to look for obviously. I doubt I’d have been able to do so without knowing what they were in advance. I couldn’t do that with this one (at least not at that particular level of attention) and I’m not sure if that’s really a bad thing or a good thing.
It’s a shame when one can’t pick out the flavours, and one feels like the whole things is just a big muddle with a generic taste. On the other hand, when each flavour clearly stands out on their own, the tea can end up tasting a little bit unfinished. Smoothness is lost, and it’s just a cup full of edges and corners that don’t quite join up.
Pros and cons, really. The smoothness of this one rather suited me last night, though. I think precisely because I couldn’t concentrate on it. Edges and corners would have thrown me off completely, I think.
Here is another one that Sil shared with me. When asked what I would like to try, one of my requests was for some Assam or other. It’s a funny region for me. I really want to adore them, but I’m just not quite there. Nine times out of ten I’ll go for a Chinese but every once in a blue moon the Assam just strikes me as the most desirable tea on the planet.
And then I usually haven’t got any.
Lately I’ve been having some small Assam-y thoughts again, though, so it was a fairly obvious request. (Project Assam…? ponder ponder ponder )
I’m making this in the big pot to share with Husband, who opted to not have it milked. When it’s any other tea, I usually just serve it as it is, but sometimes I get confused about what he would prefer. He always drinks it without additives at home, but as soon as he sets foot on English soil he reverts to preferring his tea milked. I don’t know… maybe it’s a geography thing. (I hope he doesn’t think it’s because I won’t let him milk it… O.o )
Now, let me see. I’ve been carefully timing this, because one of the things that stops me from being all over Assam is how finicky they are. You can pretty much abuse a Chinese black from now until Christmas and it’ll still produce a drinkable cup. Sometimes rather stewed, but still drinkable. An Assam however will not put up with that sort of treatment. It will turn around and bite you back.
The aroma is quite malty, but it also has notes of raisins and honey in there. Mostly raisins. Whenever I’ve had an Assam that hasn’t been completely ruined, it seems to have always had a raisin-y aspect to a smaller or larger degree. Less so with honey.
Normally when describing something as malty, I would automatically started searching for a grain-y aspect, but I can’t really find that here. It’s more sort of wood-en for me. (And bright red, my at times weird brain supplies)’
Over it all there is a note of something that smells thick and creamy, almost… like if it had a smidge of vanilla flavouring. I’ve found that Assam generally works great for me as a base for vanilla flavouring, although peculiarly my Perfect vanilla isn’t Assam-y. Now I’m beginning to wonder if that works so well because the flavouring in those cases enhance a note which might already be there, if you know what I mean. It makes a vanilla flavoured Assam taste more natural than really flavoured. If you know what I mean.
But I digress and this tea, for the record, is not actually flavoured with anything at all.
First sip is sweet and honey-y. At the very beginning it was wood-y, but then it turned all sweet. I’m actually dithering a bit on the honey note, wondering if I think it’s more along the lines of toffee or something, but eventually I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it’s most like honey. Second sip starts me considering that question again. It’s almost like it depends on how I’ve sipped. Where on the tongue it hits first, how much I’ve been slurping, how long it takes before swallowing. At the very beginning, I think it’s like honey, but then it turns into something toffee-y and sweetie like. And I’m pretty certain it is actually the same note here. It definitely feels like the same note that changes.
So, apart from that weird sweet aspect that can’t decide what it is, we’ve got some wood-en notes to this like I found in the aroma, and they’re laying down the bottom of the flavour. It’s actually quite discreet, but it adds substance. There’s a hint of mild astringency here too, but nothing too dominating.
Now what about those raisins. peers into cup They’re in there. I know they are, because I can feel them. I just… don’t know where they are. They’re hiding from me, shouting coo-ee every now and then. I suspect the tea needs to develop a bit before I’ll find them.
The tea has cooled off a bit now, and I think we can safely say that this is one of those that only have raisin notes to a smaller degree. They’re out there a little more now all right, but nothing that makes me sit up and say ‘raisin!’. That creamy sort of milky note is very much at the forefront now and I’ve completely lost the honey/toffee/vanilla-y chameleon note. That’s a shame, because I was rather enjoying that. I liked this one best when it was very hot.
All in all, this was a highly enjoyable tea.
When Cteresa and I were planning our small swap, she suggested that I try some of this one. I had never heard about it before so I went and looked it up.
Then I made this face: O.O
And then I’m afraid I resorted to pitiful begging to pretty please with a cherry on top have a sample. Or something like that. Okay, maybe not quite that much, but I definitely wanted to try it.
I mean, caramel, vanilla and red berries? That’s like, three of my favourite things to flavour tea with! It reminds me rather of the St Petersburg blend from Kusmi, only without the bergamot. And you know what, I can totally live without bergamot. Easy. And I’m actually quite fond of St P. So what I’m expecting here is something similar but better. St P got 86 points from me on Steepster. Let’s see if we can’t beat that.
Oh my word, the aroma of this one! It smells like cherries and creamy-sweet vanilla and sugar-y sweet caramel. It’s quite heavy on the caramel too. This is liquid sweets in a cup. The berries here are cherry, strawberry and raspberry, but I can only really find the cherry in the aroma. That herry flavoured number from Fru P that I’ve got is really coming in handy here, because the cherry aroma in that one is exactly the same as in this one. Perhaps there’s a wee bit of strawberry underneath, but I can’t really be certain.
Okay, so the aroma is definitely leaving St P behind in a cloud of smoke. So far so good.
The first sip gives me juicy fruit a-plenty. It reminds me at first of a 4 Red Fruits blend, but extra sweet. Although this is only three red fruits. But who’s counting.
The vanilla and caramel are both quite subtle at this point, but the vanilla comes out more as I sip and lends a creamy note. I’m now reminded more of some kind of red berry ice cream dessert. All we need now is the caramel, but I expect it’ll show up if the cup is allowed to cool off a wee bit more. This seems to often be the nature of caramel flavoured teas. They need to be allowed to develop a little more before the flavour really comes out to play. (And no, as I’ve mentioned before, your various tricks of adding sweeteners of various sort do not work for me. It makes nothing “pop” for me. Adding stuff just breaks the tea for me.)
It’s true for this as well. A little patience before sipping further and the caramel is there in the aftertaste.
Oh yeah, this is better than St P all right! I must shop at DF som time.
I just had a small sip of Husband’s mojito. Bleurgh! Not for me at all. I don’t actually like alcohol much and don’t find it refreshing no matter how many ice cubes are involved so, I suppose I could have told myself that it would be a bad idea.
I need something to wash that down with. Sil to the rescue! This one is a green tea with peaches and vanilla and Sil shared a few bags with me. I see that she didn’t much care for it herself, which makes it easier for me to say that I’m sceptical because I don’t actually much care for peach in tea. Peach everything else? Yes. Peach in tea? Not so much. And it appears that the deal-breaker for Sil was a strong floral note, something which I don’t really care for either.
Yeah, I’m beginning to expect something pretty dire here. But hey, at least I discovered that it’s a green base before I poured boiling water on it, so that’s a good sign right? Right!
Besides, it also has vanilla in it, and we all know what I’m like with vanilla, don’t we? Also, it’s been a long time since I actually had a peach flavoured tea, so my tastes might have changed in the meantime. These things do happen, you know. (For example, I used to really like Darjeeling. Now I just don’t care for it at all.)
There is definitely loads of peach in the aroma. It’s like when taking the very first bite of a peach or nectarine, and the fruit aroma comes up through the nose. There’s something green smelling in the aroma as well, sort of along the bottom and the edges and that note has a touch of something floral to it. I can’t immediately find any vanilla in the aroma, but there’s something sweet sort of hovering around the other notes which could be it, but might also simply be a peach fruity-sweet aspect.
Yeah, the flavour definitely has vanilla in it. It’s the first thing I find. A creamy thick sort of sweetness that reminds me a little of melted ice cream. A long with that, the green base comes out in force, and I can see what Sil means about something floral behind the vanilla. That’s exactly the way I’m experiencing it too. This is one of those teas that feel like they’re layered and the floral green tea is the bottom layer with vanilla right on top of that.
The floral aspect is quite obnoxious, but not completely undrinkable I don’t think. Sil shared two satchets with me, and I’m going to try and coldbrew the other one. It’s finally the weather for it too. This is just exactly the sort of tea that I’ve had good experiences with in coldbrew.
The peach flavour is mostly going on in the aftertaste for me here, with some modest overlap between it and the vanilla. This was the note that I was feeling the most sceptical about and it turns out to not actually be so bad. In fact I feel quite ready to dip my toes cautiously into the peach-flavoured tea pool again, so perhaps my tastes in that regard really have changed.
Not awesome, but it could have been much worse. I think it’s saved by there being two notes in here that I actually like. If either the peach or vanilla, and I don’t think it matters which one, had been missing, I wouldn’t have liked this at all, I don’t think. It’s drinkable as it is, and it’s infinitely better than Husband’s alcoholic concoction.
Edited: The cold brew is actually much nicer. The peach is very much at the forefront here, and although it’s still pretty floral, it’s not quite as obnoxious. Unfortunately the vanilla seems to have got slightly lost, though. I really very much prefer it brewed this way, but that doesn’t surprise me. It’s something I’ve noticed before with these sorts of blends.